Easing into the New Year isn't really an option for a technology journalist, or in fact for anyone in the technology industry, since every year kicks off with the biggest event in the technology industry's calendar - the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is a real assault on your senses, and despite many people thinking that it must be great fun, it's also exhausting. Of course that doesn't mean I don't enjoy immersing myself in all the latest technology breakthroughs every January.
CES is also a good indicator of the state of the industry, and in the current economic climate I found myself wondering how the show would look and feel this year as I flew out to Las Vegas. What I found when I arrived was one of the best organised shows of recent memory, and certainly one that I found easier to navigate and report from than in previous years.
There was no doubt that numbers were down at CES this year, but it's debatable as to whether the missing attendees were meant to be there in the first place. This year it definitely felt that the majority of people had a genuine reason to be there, rather than a need for a jolly to Vegas.
It felt a bit surreal seeing no presence from Philips, who pulled out of the US TV market completely last year, while an absence of press conferences from the likes of Pioneer and Hitachi also seemed a little strange. That said, the less demanding Press Day schedule meant that online publications like TrustedReviews could get stories written throughout the day, rather than leaving it all until press conference marathon was over.
So what were the highlights of the show? Stumbling across Flatwire was one of the highlights for me. I firmly believe that these paper thin cables will allow for more consumers to install proper home cinema setups. Being able to simply glue your cables to the wall and paint over them is simply inspired. Some may wonder how I can get excited about cables and wires, but if you've ever gone through the hassle of installing a full surround sound setup, especially one with a wall mounted TV, you'll understand.
Another major highlight was the unveiling of the Palm Pre, with its revolutionary new operating system and user interface. Considering that Palm has been pretty much an also ran in the smartphone market for the past few years, no one was expecting anything special from the company's press conference at CES. But what Palm showed the world's waiting press was something very special indeed.
The Palm Pre could provide the best of both worlds, with a hardware keyboard for those who are used to BlackBerry or even Treo devices, but the touch screen user interface is also intuitive to use, much like the iPhone. In fact if our resident News hound and iPhone junkie Gordon is to be believed, Palm's Pre beats the iPhone on many levels - native support for MMS and Bluetooth A2DP instantly spring to mind.